Payment Gateway Comparison: A Comprehensive Guide

Guides & Advice
12mid read December 2, 2021
Guides & Advice
Payment Gateway Comparison: A Comprehensive Guide
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The biggest concern that brings most merchants to payment gateway comparison is the balance of three P’s: People (1), Payments (2), and Pricing (3). 

E-retailers seek to partner up with a reliable bank & a secure tech solution (1) to authorize and settle payments smoothly both for a customer and for the merchant (2) at a low cost (3).

To combine three factors into a powerful combo, you’ll need to do quite a lot of homework on online payment gateway comparison and their fees — something neither ecommerce newbies nor busy entrepreneurs can’t afford while discussing more important business issues on the table. 

If you can’t make heads or tails of payment processors, this article is for you. At Elogic, we’ve dealt with hundreds of payment gateways over the past 10 years and can surely tell the difference between them. Read on to find how to choose the right payment gateway and see the top ecommerce payment gateway comparison.

How to Choose the Best Payment Gateway? Ask These Important Questions

Before getting down to payment gateway providers comparison, better sit down at the negotiation table with your ecommerce team and set your expectations from a payment gateway. 

Here are the questions you should answer when selecting a payment gateway.

1) Is It a Hosted or Integrated Gateway?

The first thing you should keep in mind for the payment gateway comparison is hosting.

A hosted or third-party gateway means your customers are redirected from your website to a secure page where they can enter their credentials (for example: PayPal). Once the payment is processed, the customer is redirected back to confirm the order and continue with checkout.

In an integrated gateway, your customers won’t have to leave your website to type in payment info and to place orders. This generally requires an SSL certificate, which is the standard encryption method to ensure the customer’s data is secure.

A hosted gateway is easier to integrate because the provider is fully responsible for security. On the other hand, with an integrated gateway, you have more control. You keep your branding, and customers don’t have to navigate away from your site.

2) Is Your Chosen Payment Gateway Reputable?

Reputation is everything. If you choose a payment gateway users aren’t familiar with or decide to skip the SSL certificate, don’t be surprised to see exorbitantly high cart abandonment rates.

Ecommerce shops that grossly neglect security and endanger user privacy and data have low customer trust and, hence, decreased conversion rates. Bottom line.

3) Does the Payment Gateway Come Bundled With a Merchant Account?

Small businesses should be particularly interested in a bundled merchant account when they compare online payment providers. The reason is quite obvious: with bundled accounts, you generally pay lower monthly fees. 

If your business already has a merchant account and you want to connect it to your gateway of choice, make sure your current merchant account is compatible with the gateway.

4) Does the Gateway Have Monthly Fees, Transaction Fees, or Both?

A very important consideration is cost. Since you incur most of the fees, your choice of payment gateway should heavily depend on the fee structure (scroll down for a detailed payment gateway cost comparison). Generally, fees can be divided into two parts: monthly and per-transaction fees. Monthly fees are based on the cost of a subscription, and transaction fees can be either fixed or variable.

Some payment gateways like PayPal Pro and Authorize.Net charge a small monthly fee (<$30) in addition to a per-transaction fee, which can add up if you extrapolate over the course of a fiscal year.

Additionally, you should look into volume discounts if your business handles a high volume of sales/orders. More often than not, payment gateway providers do not explicitly state what these discounts are, so you may need to give them a call to find out.

With this information in hand, let’s compare payment gateway services.

To find out the difference between a payment gateway and a payment processor and how a payment gateway works, read more here:
Choose Magento
Best Magento Payment Gateways and How to Integrate Them on a Website

Best Payment Gateways Providers Comparison: The Showdown of the Top Dogs

Pricing plans depend on your business requirements, so we would recommend either sifting through payment gateway rates comparison or consulting experts.

At a glance, all of these gateways look very similar but they differ in their applications.

Payment GatewayHosted or integratedRequires SSLBundled Merchant AccountTransaction FeeCurrencySupported Platforms
PayPal StandardHostedNoYes2.9% + $0.30 per transaction25ALL. Since PayPal usually redirects to its own site, no platform integration is necessary.
PayPal ProIntegratedYesYes2.9% + $0.30 per transaction25ALL.
Authorize.NetIntegrated/HostedYesNo2.9% + $0.30 per transaction11Shopify, Volusion, Bigcommerce,WordPress, Magento, and more.
2CheckoutIntegrated/HostedNoYes3.5% + $0.35 per transaction87Bigcommerce, Magento, Spree Commerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, and more.
StripeIntegrated/HostedYesYes2.9% + $0.30 per transaction100+Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, Bigcommerce,Spree Commerce, and more.
BraintreeIntegrated/HostedYesYes/No (depending on plan)2.9% + $0.30 per transaction130+Magento, Spree Commerce, Bigcommerce,WooCommerce, Shopify, and more.
WePayHostedYesNo2.9% + $0.30 per transaction1Bigcommerce, Magento, Spree Commerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, and more.
SquareHostedYesNo2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.1Bigcommerce, Shopventory, Weebly,Magento, and more.

PayPal 

Supported currencies: 25 currencies in 200+ countries.

Transaction fees: 2.9% + $0.30 for US transactions, and 3.9% plus a standard fee for international payments.

In all online payment gateway comparisons, PayPal stands as the most popular provider in the market. Its name is synonymous with excellent customer service, quick transfers, and the highest conversion rates when compared to other payment types.

The vendor offers two solutions for ecommerce merchants: PayPal Standard and PayPal Pro.

  • PayPal Standard for small to medium-sized businesses is a hosted solution available in 190 countries in different currencies. There are no setup fees, termination fees, or merchant accounts needed to get set up; however, a merchant shall expect to pay 2.9 percent + 30¢ per transaction for the US transactions. Volume discounts apply if you process more than $3,000 in transactions with PayPal monthly.
  • PayPal Pro for enterprises expands the list of features presented in PayPal Standard. You can integrate the gateway into your website and provide customers with a custom checkout experience (so the users won’t be redirected to the PayPal page as in the standard plan). You’ll also get a Virtual Terminal to accept payments by phone, fax, and mail. These extra features will cost you a $30 monthly fee in addition to the PayPal standard transaction fees.

Square

Supported currencies: 7 currencies in 8 countries.

Transaction fees: 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee or 3.5% + $0.15 transaction (depending on the type of transaction).

Square logo

In this payment processor comparison, Square stands as the best option for retailers who sell both online and offline. It essentially turns your customers’ devices into a point-of-sales (POS) terminal. The payment processor reads your users’ credit cards on a smart device or allows you to manually enter credit card details in-person or via the phone.

The main benefit of Square is that it’s incredibly easy to set up and use. You can either install it as a plugin or cut and paste a snippet of code to create a checkout right on your website. 

As far as the Square pricing is concerned, there are no hidden fees, like setup, authorization, refund, PCI-compliance, business card, etc. However, you will incur 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee (in case of Square invoices, APIs, and card-on-file payments) or 3.5% + $0.15 transaction fee (for manually entered credit cards on POS and online).

Read more: eCommerce POS integration

Stripe

Supported currencies: 135+ currencies in 46 countries.

Transaction fees: 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee.

Stripe payment gateway logo

While Square excels in mobile payment processing, Stripe is geared towards ecommerce payment processing. The biggest draw of Stripe is its free and flexible API. 

Stripe payment processing platform is developer-oriented, thus, allowing a merchant to build a custom checkout experience. This might be problematic for startups who have no in-house tech team or can’t afford to hire an ecommerce developer; still, mid-sized and large businesses will find Stripe customization tools useful to meet their complex and specific ecommerce needs.

Unlike other providers in this payment gateway comparison, Stripe charges no monthly fee and offers a standard 2.9% + $0.30 fee for handling online credit card transactions. Note that Stripe accepts all kinds of payment methods, except PayPal.

Braintree

Supported currencies: 130+ currencies in 28 countries

Transaction fees: 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee.

Braintree payment gateway

Despite being a subsidiary of PayPal, Braintree is hard to miss in an ecommerce payment gateway comparison. It includes built-in PayPal Express Checkout functionality and supports non-hosted custom checkout at no extra cost. 

Besides, the major strength of Braintree is that it supports payments from a variety of web wallets, like Google Pay and Apple Pay. A free API allows a merchant to smoothly integrate the checkout directly and preserve the aesthetics and brand identity of the store.

When it comes to payment gateway price comparison, Braintree will charge you a silent industry standard of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. No monthly fees apply.

Insider tip: if you choose to integrate both PayPal and Braintree into your store checkout, don’t turn one Express Checkout functionality on both providers. Otherwise, the two versions will conflict with one another.

WePay

Supported currencies: 3 currencies (USD, Euro, and Canadian Dollar) only in the US.

Transaction fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

WePay payment gateway

In this ecommerce payment gateway comparison, WePay wins a prize as the best option for SaaS companies, fundraisers, and startups in the US. It preserves all the functionalities of PayPal, plus adds a flexible API for merchants to integrate the checkout right into their store. It’s also praised for its security features offering the service of fraud and risk protection.

WePay doesn’t handle big transaction flows, but it’s not the biggest downside of WePay, though. The platform requires small businesses to work with WePay partners (JPMorgan Chase being one of the few) to accept payments within your platform.

The transaction fee is pretty standard (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction), and no setup or monthly fees apply.

Authorize.net

Supported currencies: 10+ currencies in 30+ countries.

Transaction fees: setup fees + 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

Authorize.net payment gateway logo

Authorize.Net has been around since 1996. Their seniority in the payment gateway market is a sign of reliability and security. It offers the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite to identify and prevent fraudulent transactions as well as a developer API to customize your payment experience with a mobile-optimized solution. The platform also gives you the option of connecting your own merchant account.

Read more: Ecommerce Fraud Prevention Techniques

However, Authorize.Net loses in the payment gateway fees comparison as it doesn’t have any features that differ greatly from other more affordable options. In addition to the standard 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fees, a merchant would have to pay a $49 setup fee + $25 per month.

2Checkout (now Verifone)

Supported currencies: 100+ currencies in 234 countries.

Transaction fees: 3.5% + $0.35 per transaction.

2Checkout is one of PayPal Pro’s main competitors in this online payment gateway comparison. Their latest version offers an all-in-one monetization platform that can handle simple transactions, subscription-based products, and digital goods. Like PayPal, 2Checkout supports multiple currencies all around the world. 

Still, watch out for some caveats in payment gateway charges comparison:

  • 2Checkout’s transaction fees — 3.5% + $0.35 — are the highest on the market.
  • 2Checkout supports more currencies, but currency exchange rates are higher than average (2%-5% billed on top of the daily bank exchange rate)

The higher fees are justified by extra features of 2Checkout that its cheaper competitors don’t offer. That’s why large enterprises choose to work with 2Checkout. 

Payment Gateway Cost Comparison

The cost is often the primary factor while choosing a payment gateway. Some merchants are driven by a penny saved-a penny earned strategy. Others are looking for a good value for the price. 

Here’s a recap of the payment processor fees comparison discussed in this article:

Payment gatewaySetup/monthly feesTransaction feesChargebacksFamous users
PayPal$0 for PayPal Standard$30 monthly fees for PayPal Pro2.9% + $0.30 per transaction in the US 3.9% plus a standard fee for international payments$20Adidas, IKEA, Roller Rabbit
Stripe$02.9% + $0.30 per transaction$15The British Council, Papier, Missguided
Braintree$02.9% + $0.30 per transaction$15Casper, Eventbrite, Nokia, Skyscanner
Square$02.9% + $0.30 per transaction.$0Velvet48, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Rire
WePay$02.9% + $0.30 per transaction$15Classy, Keap, YouCaring
Authorize.Net$49 setup fee + $25/month2.9% + $0.30 per transaction$25FurniturePick, Fork Over Knives, PMT Online
2Checkout$03.5% + $0.35 per transaction$15Malwarebytes, HP, ABBYY, Canon

Takeaways — The best payment gateway for ecommerce?

Your choice of payment gateway for your store will stem from your business requirements. That’s the main takeaway from this payment gateway comparison. Whether you’re looking for security, cost-effectiveness, or smooth checkout integration, you should choose the one that serves your business interests.

Let us only give you a few final recommendations before you leave:

  • — Read into the payment gateway features carefully. There’s no point in paying extra for the tools you don’t plan to use in the long run.
  • — Choose the payment gateway your customers trust. Give your users an extra reason to shop with you and reduce your cart abandonment rate.
  • — Don’t be afraid to integrate more than one payment gateway. Almost all solutions on our payment provider comparison list are free to set up, so you can try them out without much commitment. 

Last but not least, you can take advantage of the payment gateways previously integrated with your ecommerce platform. Consider Magento: it supports PayPal, Braintree, and Authorize.Net out-of-the-box, plus has a flexible API to integrate any other payment solution. 

Still running your store on an outdated legacy platform?

Try Magento and forget about the trouble of payment gateway integration!

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